The No. 19 UCLA Bruins unleashed a wave of offense against the Pepperdine Waves.
The audience had plenty to cheer for, even with 29 seconds remaining when they erupted as freshman Evan Manjikan scored his first points as a Bruin.
Perhaps the home crowd helped them settle in. After trailing 14-16 early, the Bruins controlled the game, with many players contributing. They got a confidence-boosting win, beating the Waves 100-53.
Their balanced offensive effort was highlighted by improvement from freshman guard Amari Bailey. The No. 5 ranked player in the 2022 class had struggled during the Bruins’ last two losses. In them, Bailey made just two of the ten shots he attempted.
On Wednesday, pressure did not phase him. He ignited the Bruins’ offense by scoring 19 points.
“[Bailey] has got unbelievable toughness,” said head coach Mick Cronin.
He was also effective as a playmaker, finding his teammates in transition, including a momentous alley-oop to fellow freshman Adem Bona.
Bailey ended with four assists, an uptick from his previous season average of 1.8.
Bona, who has struggled to find his offensive footing, was impactful by scoring 11 points. Bailey’s playmaking aided him as he caught two of Bailey’s feeds for dunks.
Other scoring came from the typical veteran contributors Jaime Jaquez, Tyger Campbell, Jaylen Clark, and David Singleton. Each knocked in double-digit points, with Jaquez leading them by scoring 17.
Jaquez used his physical play style to create chances. He mainly operated in the post, with ten of his 11 field goals attempted inside the three-point line.
The Bruins kept the Waves behind by forcing turnovers and scoring in transition. They created 17 takeaways, leading to 28 points.
“Our ball pressure was better than it has been all year,” Mick Cronin said. “We understood that if we let [the Waves] get comfortable… with the way they shoot the ball, we would be in trouble.”
The Waves made a mere 22.6% of their shots from beyond the arc.
Clark led the defensive effort with two steals. His night was productive because he stayed active, creating deflections and steals while only committing one foul.
Creating turnovers without fouling was a team-wide theme, as the Waves only reached the free-throw line twice.
The Bruins addressed their weaknesses but still have yet to display their talent against a ranked opponent. Their next currently-ranked matchups come in mid-December against the No. 23 ranked Maryland Terrapins, and No. 15 ranked Kentucky Wildcats. However, the Bruins will have to wait as their next few contests will be against less highly-regarded teams and conference rivals.